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Why TikTok’s ‘No-Sunscreen Sunscreen’ Trend Doesn’t Work

Vogue Arabia, April 2022. Photo: Joaquin Burgueño

Beware the “no-sunscreen sunscreens” that have recently gone viral on Tiktok as an easy shortcut to a summer tan. More akin to a tinted moisturizer, they’ve been lauded as a way to add a little color to skin with a sheer amount of protection, using light-diffusing particles to create the illusion of a tan. However, with most of the creams recommended by popular Tiktok users not formulated with a SPF nor approved for use as a sunblock, those following the technique are putting themselves at a high risk of sunburn, wrinkles, pigmentation, and an increased likelihood of developing skin cancer. As these tints do not protect your skin from the sun, they should never be used as a replacement for traditional sunscreen. Opt instead for a tinted moisturizer that includes a high-level SPF of at least SPF30, and layer up over one of the sunscreen options below for sun protection with a sheer wash of summer color.

– Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and converting them into heat that is released from the skin. They are typically clear and non-greasy, and they dry quickly. However, some people find that chemical sunscreens can irritate their skin.

– Physical sunscreens work by reflecting UV rays away from the skin. They are typically white or tinted, and they can leave a slight white cast on the skin. However, physical sunscreens are generally well-tolerated by all skin types, including sensitive skin.

– Hybrid sunscreens combine both chemical and physical sunscreens. They offer the best of both worlds, with the clear, non-greasy finish of chemical sunscreens and the broad-spectrum protection of physical sunscreens. No matter what type of sunscreen you choose, it is important to apply it liberally and evenly to all exposed skin, 15 minutes before going outside. You should also reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are sweating or swimming.

To add a boost of tan-mimicking color, these skin tints are our Beauty Editor’s favorites for easy summer wear – when used over a SPF30+ sunscreen.

Just Skin Tinted Moisturiser SPF15, Chantecaille

Prevage City Smart SPF50 Hydrating Shield, Elizabeth Arden

Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF30 PA+++, NARS

Super Serum Skin Tint SPF40, Ilia 

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